Vallages and Towns of PorterTimothy H. Ball's essay on Porter County populated locations in 1900 . . . .
As one of the foremost historians of Northwestern Indiana, Timothy H. Ball (1826-1913) wrote numerous books and articles concerning the history of the counties of Lake, LaPorte, and Porter, as well as several books concerning religion. In particular, Ball's historical writings were extremely well written; unlike many of the county histories written between 1880 and 1920, Ball's works tended to be very accurate with regard to history, locations, and the spelling of places and surnames. The following essay concerning the town and villages of Porter County was extracted from Ball's book Northwestern Indiana From 1800 to 1900: A View of Our Region Through the Nineteenth Century.
Ball, Timothy H. 1900. Northwestern Indiana From 1800 to 1900: A View of Our Region Through the Nineteenth Century. Chicago, Illinois: Donohue & Henneberry. 570 p.
VILLAGES AND TOWN OF PORTER.
not the name of a locality where American pioneers settled, as is Waverly, and
as is Tassinong, but is the name given, probably by the earliest settlers, to a
French and Indian trading post. It is claimed that in 1822, Joseph Bailly, a
French fur buyer, who was in connection with Alexander Robinson in 1809 in the
fur trade, opened a store and established a trading post on the Calumet River,
four or five miles from the mouth of Fort Creek. His wife was an Ottowa Indian
woman. They had four daughters and one son. The son dietl in 1827 when ten years
of age, and at this time it is thought that the bereaved father erected a Roman
Catholic chapel. At this locality Indians gathered to sell fur and purchase
In 1837 there was here quite a cluster of cabins, a building then understood to be a chapel, store rooms and out rooms for the family, and also for the Indians who staid for days, perhaps sometimes for weeks. Considerable parties of them, on their ponies, would leave this place in the sunnner of 1837, pass through City West, go somewhere, the children of City West could only guess where, and return.
Joseph Bailly made money, and it is said that in 1834 he had some lots laid out in due city form so as to build up a town. But no American inhabitants came, the Indians that were there could not make a city, and in a few years the trader himself died. Some of the daughters married, but members of the family continued to reside there and the name yet remains.
Note. -- This sketch was read some years ago at one of the anniversary meetings
of the Lake County Old Settlers' Association, by T. H. Ball, the title then
being "My First Home in the West, or Old City West." As written for that
occasion it is quite different in form from what it would be if written now for
this work. But the author hopes that no apology is really needed for inserting
it here in its full form as it was then written and read.
The village, for it was more than a hamlet, that bore this significant name, among the earliest of those commenced in the county of Porter, is recognized as having had a very short existence.
Before proceeding to give what may now be rescued from oblivion of its actual history, I may be allowed to notice this question which some might ask. Why try to preserve any history of a place that was so short-lived? As planned for a large Lake Michigan city, it proved to be a failure and not a success. Let then, the oblivion which it merits cover all its history. Or the question may be, stated thus: Of what use so far as the objects of history are concerned can the records of this short-lived village be? The first question or the first form of the inquiry, may be answered by another question. Why do wealthy families, and sometimes families not abounding in wealth, often place in their burial grounds a costly slab or marble monument on which is engraved the name, perhaps the date also of the birth and of the death, of some little infant? An answer to this question will suggest an answer to the other. The "little cottage girl" whom the poet Wordsworth met, herself but "eight years old," immortalized in his beautiful little poem, held as firmly to her relationship to her dead brother and sister as to her living ones. And surely no local history can be complete which treats of white man's occupancy; that does not give some account of attempted colonies and settlements and villages and towns and cities, as well as of those that succeeded and are in existence now. The pupils in our schools who have learned of Plymouth and of Boston Bay colonies in New England history, but who know nothing of Weston's Colony, commenced "in the summer when nature laughed and the hillsides were gay with flowers, and the air sweet with the songs of birds," as a chronicler has said, giving the contrast between it and old Plymouth, -- these have missed one of the grandest lessons taught by those old colonial settlements.
And those who have had no means of examining the records of the Spanish attempt to found a colony in Virginia, on the Rappahannock called the first European settlement in Virginia, made in the fall and winter of 1570, have missed one grand mental picture, which would have shown them Melendez, "the founder of Saint Augustine, the butcher of Ribault, the chosen commander of the Invincible Armada, as he stood surrounded by his grim warriors, planting the standard of Spain on the banks of the Potomac."
But the question in its other form suggests the inquiry, What are the real objects, the purposes, for which human (history is, or ought to be written? Is it not largely to teach lessons, to impart instruction, to furnish warnings, to offer encouragements, to stimulate to new and praiseworthy undertakings, and to furnish some guide that may secure others against failure? And, if so, the history of failures as well as of successes may be equally valuable. Chicago, Indiana City, City West, Michigan City, all started some fifty years ago (when this was written) with the hope of becoming large, lake shore cities, great marts of trade, with fine harbors, abundance of shipping, large warehouses, centers of commerce where would be bought and sold large amounts of costly merchandise. One succeeded, beyond, doubtless, the most sanguine hopes of its founders. Two failed entirely and are not. The fourth succeeded, slowly for a time, but at length reasonably well.
I trust that I need no further apology for placing in this form the following particulars in regard to a "city" that was but is not. 'Troja fuit," was written of an ancient town.
In the year 1836 four men, -- Morse, -- Hobart, -- Bigelow, and L. Bradley, adventurers in the better sense of that word, having some means at their command, selected the mouth of Fort Creek in Porter County on the shore of Lake Michigan, about ten miles west from Michigan City, and about the same distance from Indiana City in Lake County, as an inviting place for founding a city that might compete with the then young Chicago and the still
younger Michigan City in securing the yet undeveloped commerce of Lake Michigan. Of loaded freight trains on railroads they seem to have scarcely dreamed.The selection was not badly made. The sand bluffs along that portion of the beach were large and grand. Fort Creek entered the lake along a bed nearly parallel for a little way with the lake shore. It was not a large stream of water, but it was not far southward to the Calumet River which it was designed to connect with Fort Creek by means of a canal. Actual surveys and soundings made in 1837 indicated that the natural advantages for a harbor were superior there to the locality chosen for Michigan City. In the fall of 1836 and the winter following quite a portion of land was laid out in city lots, Hervey Ball from Massachusetts looking for a location in the West, acting as surveyor and civil engineer. A saw-mill was erected by one of the company, probably Morse, a dam having been placed across the creek, buildings were erected, the large pine trees that grew on the bluffs, and other varieties of timber growing on the level and lowland, furnishing an abundance of good lumber, and village life in that winter commenced.
When the spring of 1837 opened the place began to grow rapidly as a new western town. Conmodious and quite costly houses were erected; a large building was put up for a store and warehouse; hotels were built ready for being opened to accommodate the travelling public; a survey for a harbor was made, and an appropriation from Congress was expected to enable the proprietors to perform the needful work; and everything for a time promised an abundant success. The saw-mill furnished a good supply of lumber and the carpenters were busy putting the lumber into the form of houses.
There came from Massachusetts in the spring the two families of Hervey Ball and Amsi L. Ainsworth, other families came in, and quite a little community was formed. How many families there were in all cannot now be ascertained; but the following names are preserved in memory: Ainsworth, Bigelow, Bradley, Ball, Chisleu, Ellis, Hobart, Morse, Muzzall, Sweet, Wheeler, and four other families at least are remembered whose names cannot be recalled. There were several unmarried young men, and in all there must have been some sixteen, possibly twenty, families. [Of that family bearing the name of Muzzall, having come from England through Canada, descendants are now living in Crown Point and Merrillville; and of those young men one is now living in Hammond, L. W. Thompson, born in 1814, and at the date of this note, November, 1899, eighty-five years of age.]
It is astonishing through how much one may live in a short period of time. The writer of this spent here some seven months of the year 1837, visiting occasion ally the beautiful wilds around the Red Cedar Lake where was afterwards his western home; but here he look his first and ever to be remembered lessons in hunting; here he learned the grandeur of Lake Michigan in its native wildness and its varied moods; here he first learned the meaning of the solitudes of nature; here he learned something of Indian life, seeing the travelling parties almost every week on their ponies, going to and from the neighboring Baillytown, and visiting at their wigwams the hunting parties that came from Green Bay in their large, birch-bark canoes, and camped for weeks near the growing village; here he and others formed acquaintances destined to exert an influence through life; here he first saw an Indian burial place and saw Indians mourning over their buried dead; here he learned the intense sadness and loneliness of death in a pioneer settlement and the loneliness of a pioneer burial in the wilderness; and here he learned how colonies were planted in American wilds. Those months seem now like years of ordinary life.
Some incidents besides those named may also be mentioned. Gardens were made in May and some of the families obtained their supply of potatoes from the lake shore, at the mouth of the creek. Some lake sloop had evidently been storm-tossed, perhaps, for a time, stranded. And there was deposited for the benefit of the inhabitants a part of the cargo in the form of sound and good Irish potatoes.
No formal school was opened in 1837, but some of the children carried on their studies in their homes. No Sabbath meetings were held, and when the little community assembled to bury their few dead, in a lone spot, selected for that purpose, there was no minister in attendance to speak of the great hopes of the future. Yet some were there who knew those great hopes and who were accustomed to pray. They were not heathen burials. On a sand knoll, between the village and the lake, on the bank of the creek, there was an Indian burial ground of some size, the marks or inscriptions on the head-boards seeming to have been painted with Indian puccoon root. Here the villagers did not bury; this sacred spot they did not disturb. Near this, in the summer and fall, some Indian encampments were held; the Indians being quiet, peaceable hunting parties, one party at least having come down Lake Michigan from Green Bay, if the information imparted to the villagers was correct.
One day there came from Michigan City along the beach of the lake a party of boys, white boys, on their ponies, who rode around City West in quite gallant style, showing off themselves and their ponies, appearing to be members of the wealthier families of that lake town. Where they dined that day cannot be recorded, but in the afternoon they returned to their own city and the streets of City West were again quiet. A ride of twenty miles along the beautiful sandy beach must have been an enjoyable experience for stylish boys well mounted on ponies. There was quite a number of these city boys, and some of them may yet be living. Frequently the Indian parties came on good ponies from Bailly-town, men, women and children, passing along the west street of the village, then going by their burial place to the lake shore, sometimes going eastward to the city, sometimes westward. In a few days they would return. To the white women and children the squaws and pappooses on the ponies were always objects of much interest.
The young society of City West was not large in numbers, but very select. Of young ladies proper there were not more than five or six. Of young misses there were, of the "first set," five. Three of these are now living ["Now" means when this sketch was read at the Old Settlers' Association], having been very active and influential women in their spheres of life, one in Illinois, one in Indiana, and one in Alabama, all now about sixty years of age.
The most lovely one of these, probably the youngest, beautiful as well as lovely, bore the given name of Mary. All five were quite polished, cultivated, good-looking, dressed well, were accustomed to the refinements of life, and formed a very small, but a truly city-like group of girls. There were several boys and other children in the village, but only a few boys connected with this small group of girls.
One morning the usual quiet life of the community was broken by the announcement that Daniel Webster was about to enter City West in a two-horse carriage, having turned aside from the stage road to visit our little growing city. Of course the Whig portion of the community was quite excited. A good breakfast was prepared at the Morse residence; and after breakfast, as the citizens, men and boys, had gathered near the house -- girls did not go out in those days as they do now -- the great "expounder of the Constitution" came out to be introduced to the inhabitants of City West. There he stood before us, the great lawyer, statesman, and orator, tall in form, massive in intellect, the man of whom we had heard and read, but whom we had not expected to see standing upon our sandy soil. He soon took his seat again in the coach and passed out from us on to Michigan City. A few more reminiscences.
Three varieties of wild fruit were found that year at City West. These were, winter green berries, so abundant in May, so fragrant, so delicious; huckleberries, blue and black, low bush and high bush, growing on the flats and on the high sand hills, that overlooked so many miles of that blue lake, ripening from the 1st of July till frost came, ready to be gathered by the quart or by the bushel; and the sand-hill cherries, as we named them, ripening in August, not so abundant, but a good, edible fruit. Gathering berries for their own use formed a healthful and pleasant occupation for the women and children in that ever memorable summer. Toward the cool of the evening, as the sun would be, apparently going' down into the lake, these women and children found a delightful walk on the hard, smooth, clean sand of the wave-washed beach, from the mouth of the creek westward. And the little children and the young misses took delight in running barefooted in the very edge of the dancing waves, avoiding the large ones, letting the ripples flow over their white feet and ankles. (Little girls' dresses came to their ankles then. They did not stop as now, at the knees). At other times they would visit the great "blow-outs," climbing up and running down in that which was so soft and yielding, in which they could play, on which they could recline, and have on hands and face and clothes no stain. What could be cleaner, except the water, than that white and black Lake Michigan sand! Some, who loved the magnificence of nature, would climb to the very top of some of those high bluffs and look out upon the broad expanse of water, sometimes seeing the white sail of a distant vessel, and enjoying the grandeur of that wide sweep of lake and shore line, that satisfied the range of the keenest vision.
But this pleasantly situated little town never became a city only in name. It was two or three years too late in starting. The financial crash of 1837, that swept over the country, did not spare even this little place. Congress made no appropriation for a harbor, although Daniel Webster had taken breakfast there. It would take money to stock the large store house with goods, money to dig the contemplated canal from the Calumet to the lake, money to make a city. And the proprietors were not millionaires. They had built fine dwelling houses, they had spent thousands of dollars, they had secured nothing that would bring in an income. They must give up their enterprise. The crash had come. They began to scatter. Before 1837 had ended some sought new beginnings elsewhere. Others followed the same example in 1838, Some went further west, some found homes in La Porte County, some in Lake, engaging in various pursuits, some went further from the lake into Porter County; and in 1839 few if any were left in the once promising and pleasant little city.
In 1840, in company with a young friend, I visited the place, mainly to obtain wild fruit. We went from the Red Cedar Lake. Toward nightfall we drove into the village. The houses were there but no inhabitants. We called at the large Exchange hotel, but no one came to welcome us or attend to our wants. We had come prepared for that. We had our choice not only of rooms but of houses for that night. We chose a house, prepared our supper, and arranged our lodging place. We had no fear of being disturbed that night. The next day we gathered our fruit, bathed in Lake Michigan, and went out from that solitude, and returned to our homes.
The next that we heard about the unfortunate City West was a report that a fire had swept over it and that all the houses had gone into ashes It failed to become a city for the lack of men and means, mainly for the want of money. But for the needs of those years it was too near to Michigan City. There was then no need for a harbor between Chicago and Michigan City. Now there is one between, and there will probably yet be two. But for a new City West there seems to be no hope. The early City West has gone. Its years were few; its life was brief and bright, for some very bright; its decline and its end soon came; and from it we may learn to be careful how and where we expend, in founding cities, any large amount of means. Had the amounts expended in 1836 and 1837 been laid out where is Chicago now, some of those that were children in the young City West might have been millionaires in Chicago before now. Circumstances combine to make some rich and to leave others stranded on the sands of poverty. And those circumstances cannot by the most sagacious always be foreseen.
Young city on the lake shore;
Thou art gone forever more;
Yet thy homes were fair and bright,
Seen in childhood's rosy light.
WAVERLY. In the year 1834, John I. Foster, an early settler in the north part of Porter County, laid out a tract of land into town lots and gave to the town which he hoped to see, the name of Waverly. A few families, connected by the ties of blood and marriage, built log cabins on some of these lots and soon there was a little cluster of six houses. These were the families of Jacob Beck, John I. Foster, and William Gossett, whose wives were sisters, also, of William Frame, and the families of Sparks, Warnick, and McCoy, two of these sons-in-law. Six connected families, founded the young town.
It was on the Calumet, about one mile and a half above Baillytown, a name to which the earliest settlers gave, as near as might be, the French pronunciation. It was nearly four miles from the mouth of Fort Creek on the lake shore. Thomas' saw-mill was near, at about the present Chesterton; but the authority is good for stating that the houses of Waverly were all of logs. No business appeared in prospect; the inhabitants did not hear the whistles of the coming age of steam; they must get food from the earth; and so the families went further south into the county, opened farms, built mills, and Waverly ceased to be. In 1837 it had the appearance of an old, almost of a deserted village. According to records concerning an election ordered to be held in what became Porter County, the order issuing from the La Porte County commissioners this was already quite a noted place early in 1835, for in March of that year the election was to be held "at the town of Waverly."
Note. Most of the above statements in regard to Waverly are from the clear memory of Mrs. Sarah J. Stonex, of Le Roy, in Lake County, who was a daughter of that pioneer, Jacob Beck, and who remembers well that village home of her childhood. She says that after City West was abandoned she, with some others, enterprising children probably and adventurous like herself, went over to City West and examined the houses, and they found one, counting closets and all, which was divided off into twenty-two rooms. This must have been the "Exchange" or the Bigelow hotel. She also says that she was at City West at the time of the burial of the young child that died there. This information, with other items of interest recorded in other places, was obtained in an interview with Mrs. Stonex November 7, 1899. Strange that a City West child and a Waverly child should have witnessed that frontier burial service, and find out that they both were there, after the passing away of sixty-two years! It surely made a durable impression on the memory of each. Those two early towns of the county of Porter died young, as infants die; but the recollections concerning each live, as Christians believe that infant spirits live.
Note 2. When Joseph Bailly died, the French trader and settler at Baillytown, his wife and daughters were in Chicago, spending, according to their custom, much of the winter season there. His death was quite unexpected. An Indian runner was sent at once as messenger to Chicago, but, swift of foot as he was, before he could reach there and the women return, it seemed needful that the body must be buried. There was no embalmer to take charge of it. One of the setters at Waverly, therefore, Jacob Beck, the father of Mrs. Stonex, prepared the body for burial, and the brief funeral services were held before the return of the wife and the daughters.
Note 3. All those who travelled on that early stage road that went by the Holmes' tavern and the "Old Maid's Hotel," knew the "pole bridge" across the Calumet. How many rods long it really was is not probably known by any one now, but to a child, a boy who had been accustomed to cross the long covered bridge that spanned the Connecticut river at Springfield, it seemed long, and surely not very secure. The most rapid and dangerous ride across it was probably made by a woman with a young child, the woman was driving a pair of horses, and shortly before reaching the bridge the horses had struck a hornet's nest, were frightened or stung, and began to run. The woman placed the child on the bottom of
the wagon, put her feet on its clothing to keep it from being thrown out by the jolting of the wagon, and those horses ran the entire length of the bridge before she could check them. It seemed sufficiently dangerous to have horses walk over that bridge, and passengers liked to walk also rather than to ride across; but to cross it with horses on the full run was a fearful risk. Providential protection seems often to be over children.
Although not in the same part of Porter County as the three early localities
that have been noticed, Tassinong, already once named, seems properly among
early pioneer settlements to stand on these pages next in order to Waverly. At
some time and by some one, when and by whom no record has been found, some
woodland in what became Morgan township was named Tassinong Grove. The early
settlers in 1834 seem to have found the name already there, the Indians claiming
that it was old then. It has been conjectured that the French once had there a
trading post, but no real evidence seems to have been found. The name for us is
prehistoric, as it was found there by the pioneers. But old as is the name for
the locality, the village that the white settlers established was not among the
earliest business centers. No record of a store is found till about 1846. The
earlier merchants were Harper, Stoddard, their buildings made of logs, Unmgh,
Eaton, McCarthy, and Rinker & Wright. In 1852 there were two stores, two
blacksmith shops, a carpenter's shop, a tavern, and some shoe-makers' shops.
About 1855 a church building was erected. The organization was Prebyterian. The
postoffice dates from 1840. After the railroad life commenced and Kouts as a
station and town was established, Tassinong as a village declined. It can
scarcely be called a village now, though its life has been quite different from
its early sisters, Waverly and City West.
The living and growing towns of the present now claim attention.
At the crossing of the Chicago and Erie and Pan Handle railroads, about five miles east from the county line and two and a half south from Tassinong is Kouts, a railroad station and so a growing town. It has a large school house, two churches, one Roman Catholic, one "Christian" congregation, but the house built by the people and undenominational, and a number of stores and dwelling houses, some of these quite fine buildings. Population unknown, probably 250.
Hebron. Population 800. -- The old Indian village near the southwest corner of Porter County, where the Bryant and Dinwiddie families and others were early settlers, has been named as Indian Town. Here was quite a community of pioneers but no actual town life commenced. About two miles north of the Indian village, in 1844, some lots were laid out where is now the town of Hebron, and in 1846 the first store was opened by S. Alyea, and the second by William Sigler, which soon became the store of his two brothers, Eli and D. T. Sigler, known for many years as the Sigler store, and the building, on the corner of Sigler and Main streets, at the original "Corners" where north and south and east and west highways cross, is, in the year 1899, being repaired and rebuilt to be the drug store of Miss Hattie Palmer, who for some years has been keeping a large drug store in Hebron. The town grew slowly. The railroad in 1865 gave it some onward impulses. In 1867 D. T. Sigler erected the first brick dwelling, and in 1875 the first brick business block was put up by "Sweeney & Son." Hebron has now a two-story brick school house. Cost, $8,000. It has several brick business houses. The churches are four: Methodist Episcopal, Presbyterian, United Presbyterian, and "Christian." A church called "Union Mission" was organized in 1877 with eighty members. This organization, although in 1878 erecting a building at a cost, it is said, of about two thousand dollars, did not long continue; and in 1882, April 26, a Congregational church was organized, with about forty members, these having been for the most part members of the Union Mission church. This organization also had quite a short life. So Hebron has five church buildings and only four congregations. Estimated population eight or nine hundred. Hebron has some good dwelling houses, and, having been located in a grove, many of the dooryards have shade trees of native growth, mainly oaks, which add to the beauty of this town.
In Hebron is residing Mr. John Skelton, born in 1821, becoming a resident of Hebron in 1865, when there were six houses on each side of the main street, counting the country tavern as one, who has one recollection which probably no man in Northwestern Indiana can share with him, few probably in the entire State. He remembers distinctly, although only about four years of age, seeing General La Fayette at Trenton, N. J., when he was on his way to Boston to lay the corner-stone of the Bunker Hill monument. He was placed, as a little child eager to see, upon a slight elevation, and that noble and noted man was carefully pointed out to him. That he then and there saw La Fayette Mr. Skelton is sure there can be no mistake. Of places for holding large open air assemblages Hebron has an excellent one. It is a grove of native growth, having the shade of old oak trees, the open square adjoining the Methodist church being large enough to accommodate some thousands of people. A permanent stand has been there for some years and seats, fastened securely, and compactly arranged, sufficient to seat eight hundred. With a little addition to the seating capacity, when needful, a thousand persons can be grouped very conveniently in hearing of a good voice. This is the annual meeting place of the Old Peoples' Association of Hebron, and sometimes of the Dinwiddie Clan. It is also a place for other public gatherings. It is fortunate for a town to have such a roomy and convenient place almost in the heart of the religious and school life, for open air assemblages.
Boone Grove is the name of a station on the Erie road which has become a very pleasant village. As its name indicates it is in a grove, and the homes have the benefit of shade trees of native growth. It has one church, known as Disciple, or "Christian," and there is a neighborhood around the village of good Christian families where Sunday school life has long been maintained and church-going habits have been cultivated. The entire Boone Grove community is intelligent and prosperous.
Wheeler. Population 18o. -- Village life commenced quite early near the present railroad station and town called Wheeler. A church house was erected and the Baptists and Methodists both had church organizations. It was on the edge of Twenty Mile Prairie and also close to Twenty Mile Grove. The Harris, Peak, and other families lived near. When the Fort Wayne railroad gave a station here, it added quite an element of life, and yet but little growth followed. The larger business here is shipping milk. The town has a school and one church.
North from Valparaiso about ten miles, on the Michigan Southern and Michigan Central railroads, are three places near together, Chesterton, Hageman, and Porter; and a few miles west and south from these towns are the railroad stations of Crisman and McCool. A few miles northeast from Hageman, on the Michigan Central is Furnessville. A station on the Baltimore and Ohio and the Wabash is called Willow Creek, and one is on the Wabash, thirteen miles northward from Westville, called Crocker. These are the principal towns, villages, and stations of Porter County in 1900. One, Valparaiso, is a city; two, Hebron and Chesterton, are quite vigorous, substantial towns; Hageman, Kouts, and Wheeler, are, in size and business, probably next; and the others are small as yet, with the elements of business and town life. Porter is not a county of many towns, twelve, including stations, have been named, and there are some quite large country neighborhoods with social centers, a school house, a postoffice, or a church.
Chesterton, is, next to the county seat, the largest place in the county. Village life commenced about 1852. It is said that its population in two years numbered 300, "most of whom were Irish." Its growth afterward was slow. In 1882 its population was said to be 600. It 1880 there was established at Chesterton the Hillstrom Organ Factory. Proprietor, C. O. Hillstrom. This has been quite an industry. The first brick building in the town was erected in 1874. Since then many substantial buildings have been put up. As will be seen in the chapter on industries brick abound in this part of the country. The churches of Chesterton now are Methodist Episcopal, Swedish Methodist, Swedish Lutheran, German Lutheran, Congregational, and a Roman Catholic. The first Catholic church building was erected in 1857. A brick church was built in 1876, and a few years later a parsonage was added, making the value of the church property about sixteen thousand dollars. The Swedish Lutheran brick church of 1880 cost about five thousand dollars. The Swedish Methodist built in 1880. The German Lutheran house, 1881, cost about two thousand dollars The Methodist church of 1863 cost about the same amount. Present population about 1,200.
The town called Hageman was commenced in 1872 by Henry Hageman; the town lots were laid out by Surveyor William De Courcey in 1880. Its industry is brick-making. Population about 600.
Furnessville, called at first Murray's Side Track, and then Morgan's Side Track, has not made much town growth. The first frame building was put up in 1853 by Morgan, and the second was erected in 1855 by E. L. Furness, who opened a store in his basement in 1856.
In 1834 J. P. Ballard built the first house where is now the city of Valparaiso.
This is one of the traditional records. Others say that when the original town
was laid out there was no building on that, and that building commenced by
different persons in 1836. The first store was opened in December, 1836, by
Jeremiah Hamel, the second by John Bishop, and the third by Dr. Seneca Ball.
First postmaster, Benjamin McCarty. It was quite appropriate that he, as
principal proprietor of the new county seat should be the first to hold this
office, although he had not earned it in any way by residence there as had Solon
Robinson, first postmaster at Crown Point. As it was with the other county
seats, the business interests, the courts, the county officers, all required and
produced some growth, but in those early years advance was not rapid. In 1850 it
was incorporated as a village. In 1865 it became a city. It had at one time some
manufacturing establishments, but these closed up, one after another, and the
great financial support of the city is now the large Normal college. In
Valparaiso are nine churches, and the buildings of most of them are massive
brick structures. These are: The Roman Catholic, the Lutheran, the "Christian,"
the Methodist Episcopal, the Presbyterian, the Baptist, the Mennomite, and the
German "Reformed," and the Believers. In 1898 there were enumerated 1,595 school
children, indicating at the most a population of about six thousand. The
thousands of students at the Normal College each year are not a part of the real
population. What the census enumerator will do with them this year remains to be
seen. The more full detailed history of this town, extending over sixty-four
years, can be found, up to 1882, in the county history of Porter. Since that
work was written some new factories have started, additional school buildings
have been erected, much building has been done on College Hill, new family
residences have been built, and a massive court house has been constructed. The
location of Valparaiso is among some hills, on some heights, and in some
valleys, while all our other towns are on quite level ground. Some enjoy hills
and valleys and town lots that can be terraced up, height above height, and
others like to build on a table-land or a plain or in a valley. The hills of
Valparaiso give much variety to the town. The north part of the city is on level
land. It is almost needless to mention, in such a college town, and one with
such large and well conducted public and parochial schools, in a town so old and
with so many wealthy families, water-works and telephones and electric lights.
Without these in this day such a city would not be. The water supply is from
Flint Lake, north of the city about three miles. The Grand Trunk road passes
along the level land on the north edge of town; the Fort Wayne and Nickle Plate,
having crossed the Salt Creek Valley, pass along the south of the town.
Transcribed by Steven R. Shook, January 2009